Wait, How did THAT become a classic?!

My father-in-law, Jim, is in his eighties.  He doesn’t shop very often, go to new restaurants or buy movie tickets with any regularity.  As a result, his idea of what things should cost is lodged in a crack somewhere between 1968 and 1983.  This leads to many amusing incidents in public when presented with a perfectly normal price for an everyday item, say a sandwich at a deli.  Now, depending on the deli, this could run you anywhere from four or five bucks on the low end to ten or twelve on the high end.  For Jim though, any price anywhere in this range, between four and twelve, will elicit a “Whoa!  That’s a little pricey!”  He says this loudly and often.  Then he’ll reveal what it should cost and rarely does the price exceed a dollar.  “Jim,” I tell him, “you’ve got to get out more.”   

But the thing is, I’m totally on his side.  I’m already starting to think everything in the world costs too much and since I don’t go out as much, I’ve noticed my idea of what things should cost is settling into the timezone somewhere between the late nineties and the early aughts.    And, in a roundabout way, the same thing is happening with events in my life.   To wit, when I say something happened “around ten years ago,” chances are, if I double-check, it probably happened around twenty or thirty years ago.  And popular culture is in the same boat.  When I think of the movies of my childhood, I think of them as movies I saw for the first time just a few years ago.  So when I go to Netflix and click on “Classics” and see The Conversation, I think, “What the hell are you talking about?!  That came out, like, ten years ago.”   Oh, it’s so very sad, is it not?

When I first started watching movies with a deep fascination that put me way beyond “movie lover” and into the realm of “movie fanatic” I watched classic films.  I watched them on late night tv for the most part because that was the only place they were available to me.   I saw them on PBS, at school and revival showings, usually at the local college.  And I knew exactly what a classic movie was:  It was black and white, mostly,  but could be in color.  However, if it was in color, my friend, it was in color!  Garish, bright, blinding Technicolor.  No desaturated baloney for the geniuses of the Golden Era.  Hell no!  When the studios made a movie in color, you knew it.  Also, there was no profanity and no nudity.  Oh sure, there could be a word here and there and some flashes of nudity, especially in the Pre-Code Era, but for the most part, that stuff was edited out.    Something like Casablanca or Gone with the Wind was a classic movie.

But Jaws?!  No, no, no!  That’s not a classic, that’s a new movie!  I should know, I  saw it in the theatre when it came out, around ten years ago.

And yet, time and time again, my age is shockingly revealed to me when I scroll through the “Classic” section on Netflix.   The Ruling Class, The Sting, The Andromeda Strain, Rocky, Annie Hall… wait, what?  Annie Hall?!  But… but… I saw that in the theatre, too.  Hell, I saw The Poseidon Adventure in the theatre!   

And if one uses 25 years as the standard generational timeframe for a movie to become a “classic” that means movies made in 1986 are now classics.  Sorry, but that’s just crazy.  Aside from the fact that I’m still  desperately trying to forget most of the eighties, and my pointless existence within them, I just can’t accept that Top Gun is a classic.   Put me in a time machine, jettison me 75 years to the future, plop me down at the Centennial Celebration of Top Gun and ask me if it’s a classic and I’ll say… well, I don’t know what I’ll say because I’ll be too busy laughing at the question but when I finish laughing I bet I’ll say something clever and witty.  Something along the lines of, “No.”

Also, and this is important, do you realize that by 1986 the world had already demanded, and received, a sequel to The Karate Kid?  No, seriously.  I mean, think about that:  The Karate Kid II has entered its golden years.   Wow.   

And if you’re like me, you assume Eddie Murphy started tanking as a box office draw just recently but guess what?  You’re wrong!  Or I’m wrong.  Or something.  Anyway, point is, Golden Child celebrates its Silver Anniversary this year.   I swear it was just yesterday I was doing everything in my power to avoid that movie, and now, I feel like giving it one of those all too familiar blog reassessments.  Maybe it’s a lost treasure.   I doubt it, but what do I know, I’m an old fool.

But what really gets me is a remake of a classic movie from the now classic year of 1986.  Specifically, The Fly.  Now, the original Fly, with David Hedison and Vincent Price, is a classic.  A true-blue bonafide classic.  The 1986 version is a NEW MOVIE!  I don’t care if it’s 25 years old.  It has computers, mentions DNA and features Jeff Goldblum vomiting powdered donut afterbirth.  In my book, those metrics render it impossible as a classic movie.  I mean, vomited donut afterbirth?  Sorry, but a part of determining if a movie is classic or not, beyond its age, should be, “Would Spencer Tracy do that?”  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And then there’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  This movie really confuses things with me because it stars an actor, Matthew Broderick, who still looks like a young kid only with some stage makeup thrown on his face.  You know how they make young actors look old in movies from the Golden Era by simply graying their hair, like they did with Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in Giant and when they actually did grow older in real life they looked nothing like they did in Giant as old people?  Well, Matthew Broderick is the only actor alive who could’ve  been aged that same way and he would look like that in real life when he got older, because he does look like that now!   So when I see weirdly-aging kid/adult actor Broderick, I think, “Oh yeah, I remember that Bueller movie he did a few years ago,” and by “few” I mean, eight or nine.  And I know I’m not wrong because there he is, with his hair grayed, obviously for some new movie he’s doing where he plays an aging Texas oil man.

Finally, Psycho III was made 26 years after Psycho I and yet, at the time, Psycho felt (and still does, of course) like a truly classic film.  Psycho III, on the other hand, is almost as old as Psycho was when Part III was released and yet I still regard it as less a classic and more of a horrible, soul-crushing, jaw-dropping, tragic mistake.   But definitely not a classic.

And so I log on to Netflix now with trepidation.  My hands tremble knowing each new year brings the entire catalogue of Keanu Reeves closer and closer to classic status.  Who would have thought that my love of movies would eventually force my addled mind into contemplating my own mortality simply by sitting in front of the tv and thinking, “Let’s see what Netflix has.”  If I’m lucky, I’ll find a comedy to take my mind off of things, like Love and Death, that recent Woody Allen movie.  And then I’ll slump and sigh while the children point and laugh.  O,  fate,  you are so cruel.

140 Responses Wait, How did THAT become a classic?!
Posted By Patricia Nolan-Hall : August 3, 2011 10:02 am

Yep. 20 years ago isn’t as long ago as it used to be.

Posted By Patricia Nolan-Hall : August 3, 2011 10:02 am

Yep. 20 years ago isn’t as long ago as it used to be.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 3, 2011 10:30 am

I get the same feelings sometimes too. Occasionally TCM will show a movie from the 90′s and there is no way that a movie from 1990 could yet be considered a classic. And then it hits me that that was over 20 years ago. After high school the years just started running together. I graduated from high school in 1993, but I swear it seems like 5 years ago when I saw Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park in the theater.

And for the record, The Golden Child is a ridiculous delight.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 3, 2011 10:30 am

I get the same feelings sometimes too. Occasionally TCM will show a movie from the 90′s and there is no way that a movie from 1990 could yet be considered a classic. And then it hits me that that was over 20 years ago. After high school the years just started running together. I graduated from high school in 1993, but I swear it seems like 5 years ago when I saw Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park in the theater.

And for the record, The Golden Child is a ridiculous delight.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 10:43 am

Patricia, 20 years doesn’t even register with me anymore. Anything under thirty years feels like yesterday. I need a drink.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 10:43 am

Patricia, 20 years doesn’t even register with me anymore. Anything under thirty years feels like yesterday. I need a drink.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 10:46 am

Jurassic Park feels brand new to me. I can’t believe it will soon be celebrating its 20th anniversary.

And for the record, The Golden Child is a ridiculous delight

You’re just messing with an old man’s mind.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 10:46 am

Jurassic Park feels brand new to me. I can’t believe it will soon be celebrating its 20th anniversary.

And for the record, The Golden Child is a ridiculous delight

You’re just messing with an old man’s mind.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 3, 2011 11:05 am

I like The Golden Child. It is fun nonsense.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 3, 2011 11:05 am

I like The Golden Child. It is fun nonsense.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 11:16 am

Well since my memories so foggy on it, I’ll take your word for it. Now Best Defense I remember and that truly blew. I can’t change the channel fast enough if I see that movie on (fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often).

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 11:16 am

Well since my memories so foggy on it, I’ll take your word for it. Now Best Defense I remember and that truly blew. I can’t change the channel fast enough if I see that movie on (fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often).

Posted By Heidi : August 3, 2011 12:40 pm

Greg, you and me both, on all counts! I was blaming it on the fact that I am an archaeologist, and deal with things from 300 plus years old. I am comfortable there, in the 1700′s. *G* I love the “Would Spencer Tracy do that?” I am going to use that on my husband when he drags me to these modern movies he likes so much. I don’t think anything from the 80s can be classic since…well…it was the 80′s and aren’t we ALL trying to forget that decade? I look over the TCM movie catalog (Monthly one that omes in the mail) and usually complain to my husband about at least one movie in there that “shouldn’t be a classic! It is only a few years old…” My gray hairs are coming in thick as I sit here! *G*
thanks for the post and the laugh…even though I agree with everything you said!

Posted By Heidi : August 3, 2011 12:40 pm

Greg, you and me both, on all counts! I was blaming it on the fact that I am an archaeologist, and deal with things from 300 plus years old. I am comfortable there, in the 1700′s. *G* I love the “Would Spencer Tracy do that?” I am going to use that on my husband when he drags me to these modern movies he likes so much. I don’t think anything from the 80s can be classic since…well…it was the 80′s and aren’t we ALL trying to forget that decade? I look over the TCM movie catalog (Monthly one that omes in the mail) and usually complain to my husband about at least one movie in there that “shouldn’t be a classic! It is only a few years old…” My gray hairs are coming in thick as I sit here! *G*
thanks for the post and the laugh…even though I agree with everything you said!

Posted By Ryan Kelly : August 3, 2011 12:55 pm

I love this post. A great reflection on what it means to get older and absent of the usual bellyaching that accompanies such a reflection. And very touching. Great job, Greg.

It’s funny, because my view of contemporary film more or less coincides with yours. I grew up watching a lot of classics so movies made from the 70s and on I would definite as contemporary, because an “old” movie to me kind of denotes no explicit sex/violence. Even though 1970 was over 40 years ago.

But as for the way films age, I think it just depends. There are films from 10 years ago that feel dated to me (some of which I even saw in theater!) and some made 50 or more years ago that haven’t aged a day. I remember when, say, Twister came out quite vividly, and all I see when I watch that movie are distinctly 90s stars (a movie headlined by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton!) and horribly dated special effects that are designed to carry the movie, essentially. 1996 suddenly feels like a long time ago. But then I watch, say, Notorious, and it feels as fresh as any movie you can think of, and suddenly 1946 could be yesterday.

Posted By Ryan Kelly : August 3, 2011 12:55 pm

I love this post. A great reflection on what it means to get older and absent of the usual bellyaching that accompanies such a reflection. And very touching. Great job, Greg.

It’s funny, because my view of contemporary film more or less coincides with yours. I grew up watching a lot of classics so movies made from the 70s and on I would definite as contemporary, because an “old” movie to me kind of denotes no explicit sex/violence. Even though 1970 was over 40 years ago.

But as for the way films age, I think it just depends. There are films from 10 years ago that feel dated to me (some of which I even saw in theater!) and some made 50 or more years ago that haven’t aged a day. I remember when, say, Twister came out quite vividly, and all I see when I watch that movie are distinctly 90s stars (a movie headlined by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton!) and horribly dated special effects that are designed to carry the movie, essentially. 1996 suddenly feels like a long time ago. But then I watch, say, Notorious, and it feels as fresh as any movie you can think of, and suddenly 1946 could be yesterday.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : August 3, 2011 1:53 pm

If it doesn’t star Charlie Chase, I’m not interested.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : August 3, 2011 1:53 pm

If it doesn’t star Charlie Chase, I’m not interested.

Posted By DBenson : August 3, 2011 2:01 pm

I still think of Roger Moore as the new Bond.

Posted By DBenson : August 3, 2011 2:01 pm

I still think of Roger Moore as the new Bond.

Posted By Peter Nellhaus : August 3, 2011 2:11 pm

The tricks the mind plays on you, like the difference between when I saw a clip of Potemkin (1925) in 1965, and when I finally saw Panic in Needle Park(1971) in its DVD release in 2007, even though the gaps between when the films were first released and when I saw them in relation to the release dates are about the same.

Posted By Peter Nellhaus : August 3, 2011 2:11 pm

The tricks the mind plays on you, like the difference between when I saw a clip of Potemkin (1925) in 1965, and when I finally saw Panic in Needle Park(1971) in its DVD release in 2007, even though the gaps between when the films were first released and when I saw them in relation to the release dates are about the same.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 2:22 pm

usually complain to my husband about at least one movie in there that “shouldn’t be a classic!

Heidi, my wife and I do that all the time. It’s especially bad during 31 days of Oscar where they run stuff through the nineties.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 2:22 pm

usually complain to my husband about at least one movie in there that “shouldn’t be a classic!

Heidi, my wife and I do that all the time. It’s especially bad during 31 days of Oscar where they run stuff through the nineties.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 2:24 pm

I grew up watching a lot of classics so movies made from the 70s and on I would definite as contemporary, because an “old” movie to me kind of denotes no explicit sex/violence. Even though 1970 was over 40 years ago.

Ryan, it’s true that for most people, the dividing line is the introduction of the rating system (1966 approved, fully implemented starting in 1968). At that point, most films were made in color and the rating system allowed for language and nudity so, yeah, anything from then on feels contemporary.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 2:24 pm

I grew up watching a lot of classics so movies made from the 70s and on I would definite as contemporary, because an “old” movie to me kind of denotes no explicit sex/violence. Even though 1970 was over 40 years ago.

Ryan, it’s true that for most people, the dividing line is the introduction of the rating system (1966 approved, fully implemented starting in 1968). At that point, most films were made in color and the rating system allowed for language and nudity so, yeah, anything from then on feels contemporary.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 2:30 pm

RHS – Okay, okay. Always with the Charley Chase worship. We get it. He was a god to you.

duke – Yes! Ha, I feel the same way. Moore will always be the new Bond.

Peter – it’s amazing, isn’t it? I mean, Potemkin, and in fact many silent films, feel centuries removed to me sometimes but post-ratings era film, no matter how old, feels like yesterday.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 2:30 pm

RHS – Okay, okay. Always with the Charley Chase worship. We get it. He was a god to you.

duke – Yes! Ha, I feel the same way. Moore will always be the new Bond.

Peter – it’s amazing, isn’t it? I mean, Potemkin, and in fact many silent films, feel centuries removed to me sometimes but post-ratings era film, no matter how old, feels like yesterday.

Posted By suzidoll : August 3, 2011 5:22 pm

Greg: You should become a member of Facets and rent by mail from our video store. You won’t find anyone here calling Top Gun a classic.

Duke and Greg: I have not been able to accept that Roger Moore was ever James Bond after I heard him tell a story on the Carson show (that’s Johnny Carson, not Carson Daly)about how he contracted a fungus infection during the making of GOLD in Africa, and his nipples fell off. After that, if he had a shirtless scene in a Bond film, or wherever, the makeup dept. had to construct fake nipples for him.

Posted By suzidoll : August 3, 2011 5:22 pm

Greg: You should become a member of Facets and rent by mail from our video store. You won’t find anyone here calling Top Gun a classic.

Duke and Greg: I have not been able to accept that Roger Moore was ever James Bond after I heard him tell a story on the Carson show (that’s Johnny Carson, not Carson Daly)about how he contracted a fungus infection during the making of GOLD in Africa, and his nipples fell off. After that, if he had a shirtless scene in a Bond film, or wherever, the makeup dept. had to construct fake nipples for him.

Posted By JeffH : August 3, 2011 5:31 pm

The term “classic” has become so flexible that it seems like almost any films that have received four stars or 9/10 or higher get affixed with that classification. For me, a film does not achieve that status until it is at least 40 years old-I prefer the Maltin timeframe-and I can look at it and feel that a remake is not necessary or if one is made it just makes the original look a hundred times better. See the remakes of LOST HORIZON and KING KONG (that ghastly 1976 version, not the quite excellent Peter Jackson one) for illustration of this.

Some exceptions to my rule include the first two GODFATHER movies and CHINATOWN, and possibly JAWS and DAYS OF HEAVEN. After those, I would have to do some serious thinking about it. The thing is, not all older films are truly “classic.” Again, for illustration, just try to watch PARNELL, GOLDEN DAWN, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (one of the most overrated films ever, IMHO) or, with the exception of the films made at Warner Bros., any of the Bowery Boys films (again, my opinion). I guess that many on-the-fence older titles should be taken on a case-by-case basis, but there are certain films or filmmakers whose films will always be considered in the classic category, no matter who you talk to.

And for the record, not even if every film made before or since disappeared would THE GOLDEN CHILD ever be considered a classic!

Posted By JeffH : August 3, 2011 5:31 pm

The term “classic” has become so flexible that it seems like almost any films that have received four stars or 9/10 or higher get affixed with that classification. For me, a film does not achieve that status until it is at least 40 years old-I prefer the Maltin timeframe-and I can look at it and feel that a remake is not necessary or if one is made it just makes the original look a hundred times better. See the remakes of LOST HORIZON and KING KONG (that ghastly 1976 version, not the quite excellent Peter Jackson one) for illustration of this.

Some exceptions to my rule include the first two GODFATHER movies and CHINATOWN, and possibly JAWS and DAYS OF HEAVEN. After those, I would have to do some serious thinking about it. The thing is, not all older films are truly “classic.” Again, for illustration, just try to watch PARNELL, GOLDEN DAWN, LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (one of the most overrated films ever, IMHO) or, with the exception of the films made at Warner Bros., any of the Bowery Boys films (again, my opinion). I guess that many on-the-fence older titles should be taken on a case-by-case basis, but there are certain films or filmmakers whose films will always be considered in the classic category, no matter who you talk to.

And for the record, not even if every film made before or since disappeared would THE GOLDEN CHILD ever be considered a classic!

Posted By Wendy T. Merckel : August 3, 2011 5:43 pm

JURASSIC PARK is NOT 20 years old…. is it?

Good grief. Put me in the retirement home.

Posted By Wendy T. Merckel : August 3, 2011 5:43 pm

JURASSIC PARK is NOT 20 years old…. is it?

Good grief. Put me in the retirement home.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 6:56 pm

Suzidoll, Facets was the first video by mail system I ever heard of, years ago, thanks to Roger Ebert. They have a reputation for quality that precedes them.

And how about nipple-less Roger Moore blabbing about it to Johnny? Roger, my man, you should kept that one to yourself.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 6:56 pm

Suzidoll, Facets was the first video by mail system I ever heard of, years ago, thanks to Roger Ebert. They have a reputation for quality that precedes them.

And how about nipple-less Roger Moore blabbing about it to Johnny? Roger, my man, you should kept that one to yourself.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 7:01 pm

Jeff, I like the forty year limit, too. It makes things a little easier to take.

The worst remake for me ever is Lost Horizon if only because I love the original so very much. And it doesn’t help that I hate the music. Seriously, a musical? Oh brother.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 7:01 pm

Jeff, I like the forty year limit, too. It makes things a little easier to take.

The worst remake for me ever is Lost Horizon if only because I love the original so very much. And it doesn’t help that I hate the music. Seriously, a musical? Oh brother.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 7:03 pm

Wendy – Well, I suppose, technically it’s 18 which means that next year will have seniors graduating high school who were not yet born when JURASSIC PARK was released. Scary.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 7:03 pm

Wendy – Well, I suppose, technically it’s 18 which means that next year will have seniors graduating high school who were not yet born when JURASSIC PARK was released. Scary.

Posted By Tom S : August 3, 2011 7:10 pm

As someone who was born in 1985, and is barely old enough to be a classic myself- the reasons Top Gun isn’t a classic have nothing to do with how old it is.

There are certain kinds of movie that have an impact and scope such that they feel like classics the first time you see them- Royal Tenenbaums, say, or even more recent things like There Will Be Blood or the Tree of Life. They’re classics because you could put them up against pretty much anything called classic, a piece of music or a book or what have you, and it can hold its own, regardless of age.

There are other things that become classics over time- Jaws being a good example there. It’s a classic in part because it’s a lean, well-made movie, and in part because it’s something that stayed beloved for decades. It needs time to determine whether it’s going to be seen as a classic or just a fun diversion- I could see something like The Dark Knight moving into this category.

I think there’s a third category of things that get called classics without ever having been remarkably good, because people want to watch them when they’re no longer new for whatever reason. I’d put Top Gun there, and a lot of 80s teen movies that people my age remember mostly from endless reruns on cable- they’re fondly remembered because they’re familiar, not for any reasons relating to quality. Not everything in this category is bad- I’d say the Princess Bride and Labyrinth are both here, despite being great movies, because I think most people who love them experience them before they develop critical faculty.

I also think a lot of the feeling of silent movies as being immeasurably ancient and distant from the present has to do with the condition most people saw them in for decades- when you see a pristine print of Sunrise on blu-ray, it feels like a different school of filmmaking than you’d see in anything modern, but it doesn’t have that patina that a ratty 16mm cutdown gets. You can experience it as though it were new.

Posted By Tom S : August 3, 2011 7:10 pm

As someone who was born in 1985, and is barely old enough to be a classic myself- the reasons Top Gun isn’t a classic have nothing to do with how old it is.

There are certain kinds of movie that have an impact and scope such that they feel like classics the first time you see them- Royal Tenenbaums, say, or even more recent things like There Will Be Blood or the Tree of Life. They’re classics because you could put them up against pretty much anything called classic, a piece of music or a book or what have you, and it can hold its own, regardless of age.

There are other things that become classics over time- Jaws being a good example there. It’s a classic in part because it’s a lean, well-made movie, and in part because it’s something that stayed beloved for decades. It needs time to determine whether it’s going to be seen as a classic or just a fun diversion- I could see something like The Dark Knight moving into this category.

I think there’s a third category of things that get called classics without ever having been remarkably good, because people want to watch them when they’re no longer new for whatever reason. I’d put Top Gun there, and a lot of 80s teen movies that people my age remember mostly from endless reruns on cable- they’re fondly remembered because they’re familiar, not for any reasons relating to quality. Not everything in this category is bad- I’d say the Princess Bride and Labyrinth are both here, despite being great movies, because I think most people who love them experience them before they develop critical faculty.

I also think a lot of the feeling of silent movies as being immeasurably ancient and distant from the present has to do with the condition most people saw them in for decades- when you see a pristine print of Sunrise on blu-ray, it feels like a different school of filmmaking than you’d see in anything modern, but it doesn’t have that patina that a ratty 16mm cutdown gets. You can experience it as though it were new.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 8:07 pm

Well, whenever I go “tongue in cheek” a lot is generalized for the sake of the piece. For instance, there are many definitions of classic, I’m just going with the single definition of time. But classic can be good (“Instant Classic”), bad (“Classic Turkey”) or indifferent (“Classic Cinema” meaning “anything old”). I think you cover the three of these pretty well in your comment.

Your statement about silent films is also true of a lot of classic cinema. For decades, tv prints (old, degraded, scratched, worn) were all people knew and old movies felt… old. And creaky. But watch a cleaned up version of something like, as you say, SUNRISE, and it feels brand new. My wife and I saw a beautiful print of THE CROWD at the AFI two years ago with live organ accompaniment of the original organ score and it was more exciting, thrilling and ambitious than any new movie I saw that year.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 3, 2011 8:07 pm

Well, whenever I go “tongue in cheek” a lot is generalized for the sake of the piece. For instance, there are many definitions of classic, I’m just going with the single definition of time. But classic can be good (“Instant Classic”), bad (“Classic Turkey”) or indifferent (“Classic Cinema” meaning “anything old”). I think you cover the three of these pretty well in your comment.

Your statement about silent films is also true of a lot of classic cinema. For decades, tv prints (old, degraded, scratched, worn) were all people knew and old movies felt… old. And creaky. But watch a cleaned up version of something like, as you say, SUNRISE, and it feels brand new. My wife and I saw a beautiful print of THE CROWD at the AFI two years ago with live organ accompaniment of the original organ score and it was more exciting, thrilling and ambitious than any new movie I saw that year.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 3, 2011 10:09 pm

Please tell me that that print of The Crowd has been released on DVD or Blu-ray. I would love to see a clean print.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 3, 2011 10:09 pm

Please tell me that that print of The Crowd has been released on DVD or Blu-ray. I would love to see a clean print.

Posted By Christopher : August 4, 2011 12:03 am

all this talk is making me feel really old! :o/….For me..Classics start before ’77 when high tech really moved in and took over the business..I dunno..I was just thinking its time for another Sunset Blvd to come along..2000′s looking back to the crazy 80′s..dosen’t seem so distant and darkly romantic..hmmm..Abigail Breslin in the Bill Holden role…Pee Wee Herman in the Swanson..

Posted By Christopher : August 4, 2011 12:03 am

all this talk is making me feel really old! :o/….For me..Classics start before ’77 when high tech really moved in and took over the business..I dunno..I was just thinking its time for another Sunset Blvd to come along..2000′s looking back to the crazy 80′s..dosen’t seem so distant and darkly romantic..hmmm..Abigail Breslin in the Bill Holden role…Pee Wee Herman in the Swanson..

Posted By Tom S : August 4, 2011 12:32 am

I think there’s a fundamental change in how older movies are viewed now compared to when Sunset Boulevard was shot- back then, I think people thought nobody would ever have any interest in silent cinema again, and that anyone who clung to it was automatically a sad old relic (which is one of the reasons that, great though that movie is, it feels a little cruel. Poor Buster!)

Moreover, we’re consuming our own cultural history so quickly, it’s almost impossible to stop being famous now- Gloria Swanson wouldn’t be moldering in some half forgotten castle, she’d have a reality show.

Posted By Tom S : August 4, 2011 12:32 am

I think there’s a fundamental change in how older movies are viewed now compared to when Sunset Boulevard was shot- back then, I think people thought nobody would ever have any interest in silent cinema again, and that anyone who clung to it was automatically a sad old relic (which is one of the reasons that, great though that movie is, it feels a little cruel. Poor Buster!)

Moreover, we’re consuming our own cultural history so quickly, it’s almost impossible to stop being famous now- Gloria Swanson wouldn’t be moldering in some half forgotten castle, she’d have a reality show.

Posted By missrhea : August 4, 2011 10:12 am

I was already feeling old reading this when dukeroberts said he graduated from high school in 1993…oy! (This probably means he was born the year that I graduated. double oy!) I think the original “The Women” rates being a classic but I couldn’t even tolerate the clips of the remake.

Posted By missrhea : August 4, 2011 10:12 am

I was already feeling old reading this when dukeroberts said he graduated from high school in 1993…oy! (This probably means he was born the year that I graduated. double oy!) I think the original “The Women” rates being a classic but I couldn’t even tolerate the clips of the remake.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 10:15 am

duke, I have no idea if it’s to be released on blu-ray or not. Here’s the review I wrote of my experience seeing it live at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Md. I gush over it pretty hard and I wish I could go back and do it all over again. My review focuses on how important the social experience was of seeing the film with a, pardon the term, crowd of silent film lovers.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 10:15 am

duke, I have no idea if it’s to be released on blu-ray or not. Here’s the review I wrote of my experience seeing it live at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Md. I gush over it pretty hard and I wish I could go back and do it all over again. My review focuses on how important the social experience was of seeing the film with a, pardon the term, crowd of silent film lovers.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 10:21 am

Christopher and Tom – You know how old Gloria Swanson was in Sunset Boulevard (I ask rhetorically as I’m sure both of you do): 51! You know how old Tom Cruise is? 49. The last regularly released silent movies (for Hollywood, I mean, outside of Charlie Chaplin) in 28 and 29 occurred just 20 odd years prior to Sunset Boulevard, the equivalent of a movie today about a fading star from the bygone era of… 1991!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 10:21 am

Christopher and Tom – You know how old Gloria Swanson was in Sunset Boulevard (I ask rhetorically as I’m sure both of you do): 51! You know how old Tom Cruise is? 49. The last regularly released silent movies (for Hollywood, I mean, outside of Charlie Chaplin) in 28 and 29 occurred just 20 odd years prior to Sunset Boulevard, the equivalent of a movie today about a fading star from the bygone era of… 1991!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 10:27 am

missrhea, I never saw the remake. Maybe, perhaps, possibly – had it received glowing reviews. Maybe. But that thing got skewered! I mean, it was hated! So I don’t feel bad about never, ever seeing it. Besides, why would you want to anyway? You can’t replace Shearer, Crawford and Russell and you certainly can’t outdo them so, really, why bother?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 10:27 am

missrhea, I never saw the remake. Maybe, perhaps, possibly – had it received glowing reviews. Maybe. But that thing got skewered! I mean, it was hated! So I don’t feel bad about never, ever seeing it. Besides, why would you want to anyway? You can’t replace Shearer, Crawford and Russell and you certainly can’t outdo them so, really, why bother?

Posted By Medusa : August 4, 2011 11:09 am

Greg, I’m sure with your father-in-law about those pricey deli sandwiches! Everything DOES cost too much! I’m big into price-points and for me there’s always a point where I say “It’s just not worth it” — and it’s pretty cheap.

Believe me, I’m thrilled to see that you can still get some decent hamburgers for a buck-and-a-half at some fast food places — I love a bargain! :-) I think I’m officially an old fogey!

When I was at TNT there was much to-do about calling newer movies “The New Classics” — a phrase only a marketer could love!

Posted By Medusa : August 4, 2011 11:09 am

Greg, I’m sure with your father-in-law about those pricey deli sandwiches! Everything DOES cost too much! I’m big into price-points and for me there’s always a point where I say “It’s just not worth it” — and it’s pretty cheap.

Believe me, I’m thrilled to see that you can still get some decent hamburgers for a buck-and-a-half at some fast food places — I love a bargain! :-) I think I’m officially an old fogey!

When I was at TNT there was much to-do about calling newer movies “The New Classics” — a phrase only a marketer could love!

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:42 am

That remake of The Women looked horrendous, and from all of the accounts I’ve heard, it lived up to my imaging of it.

Though the time frame between now and 1990 and between Sunset Blvd and the silent era is roughly the same, the times in between changed much differently from each other. When sound took over the industry so many stars lost their livelihood or just couldn’t make the transition. So many of the silent stars were forgotten about. Also, some big name stars were already beginning to break away from exclusive studio contracts. That classic silent era of Hollywood was long gone by 1950, never to return. What has changed since 1990? CGI? Not much else.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:42 am

That remake of The Women looked horrendous, and from all of the accounts I’ve heard, it lived up to my imaging of it.

Though the time frame between now and 1990 and between Sunset Blvd and the silent era is roughly the same, the times in between changed much differently from each other. When sound took over the industry so many stars lost their livelihood or just couldn’t make the transition. So many of the silent stars were forgotten about. Also, some big name stars were already beginning to break away from exclusive studio contracts. That classic silent era of Hollywood was long gone by 1950, never to return. What has changed since 1990? CGI? Not much else.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:43 am

I meant “imagining” in the first sentence. Dagnabbit…

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:43 am

I meant “imagining” in the first sentence. Dagnabbit…

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:45 am

Also, I already consider Star Wars, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Raging Bull and E.T. as classics. Those movies just seem to transcend the time classification of “classic” to me.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:45 am

Also, I already consider Star Wars, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Raging Bull and E.T. as classics. Those movies just seem to transcend the time classification of “classic” to me.

Posted By Heidi : August 4, 2011 1:13 pm

My husband went to the latest Tron movie…Legacy? anyway, he went with 3 co-workers who were not born when the original was released and have not seen the original. I agree with dukeroberts on the films listed as classic. Even with ET, which I am afraid to say is not a favorite of mine. Wasn’t when I went to see it at the theater the day it was released. (I was 6 months old…hahah!) Just something about it doesn’t sit with me, but I think it is a classic as it is an important movie of it’s time.

Posted By Heidi : August 4, 2011 1:13 pm

My husband went to the latest Tron movie…Legacy? anyway, he went with 3 co-workers who were not born when the original was released and have not seen the original. I agree with dukeroberts on the films listed as classic. Even with ET, which I am afraid to say is not a favorite of mine. Wasn’t when I went to see it at the theater the day it was released. (I was 6 months old…hahah!) Just something about it doesn’t sit with me, but I think it is a classic as it is an important movie of it’s time.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 2:07 pm

Medusa – I love things like “The New Classics.” It denotes a kind of hipper, cooler quality than those musty old classics. Of course, what it really means is these current movies we’re trying to push on you are pieces of crap that will be forgotten in ten years so we’re doing everything we can to get someone to watch them now.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 2:07 pm

Medusa – I love things like “The New Classics.” It denotes a kind of hipper, cooler quality than those musty old classics. Of course, what it really means is these current movies we’re trying to push on you are pieces of crap that will be forgotten in ten years so we’re doing everything we can to get someone to watch them now.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 2:11 pm

duke and Heidi, I absolutely agree “classic” doesn’t mean one has to like it or even think it’s very good. I don’t like a lot of movies that I would never deny are classics, nonetheless. And don’t apologize about “E.T.” Fellow Morlock Kimberly Lindbergs and I go back a ways together online and one of the first things that united us was our mutual loathing of “E.T.” but I wouldn’t deny it’s a classic.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 2:11 pm

duke and Heidi, I absolutely agree “classic” doesn’t mean one has to like it or even think it’s very good. I don’t like a lot of movies that I would never deny are classics, nonetheless. And don’t apologize about “E.T.” Fellow Morlock Kimberly Lindbergs and I go back a ways together online and one of the first things that united us was our mutual loathing of “E.T.” but I wouldn’t deny it’s a classic.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 2:37 pm

What? Who loathes E.T.? That’s the same reaction I had when someone said they hated The Sound of Music? What kind of jaded cynic hates The Sound of Music? But I digress…

“Next, on TNT, Patrick Swayze stars in Roadhouse. One of ‘The New Classics’!”

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 2:37 pm

What? Who loathes E.T.? That’s the same reaction I had when someone said they hated The Sound of Music? What kind of jaded cynic hates The Sound of Music? But I digress…

“Next, on TNT, Patrick Swayze stars in Roadhouse. One of ‘The New Classics’!”

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 2:39 pm

I personally find 2001 an utter bore. I have tried to watch it three times and I never fail to be bored to near tears. It’s still a classic though, despite my apparent lowbrow opinion.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 2:39 pm

I personally find 2001 an utter bore. I have tried to watch it three times and I never fail to be bored to near tears. It’s still a classic though, despite my apparent lowbrow opinion.

Posted By Tom S : August 4, 2011 2:50 pm

I hate the Sound of Music! As did Pauline Kael.

To be fair, though, I do’t think I’ve ever seen a Rogers and Hammerstein I didn’t loathe, and there are actually some pretty solid performances in the Sound of Music. But it basically feels like a well-photographed episode of the Partridge Family with Nazism thrown in (without actually taking the time to consider what that meant.)

At least it’s not as messed up as The King and I, though.

Posted By Tom S : August 4, 2011 2:50 pm

I hate the Sound of Music! As did Pauline Kael.

To be fair, though, I do’t think I’ve ever seen a Rogers and Hammerstein I didn’t loathe, and there are actually some pretty solid performances in the Sound of Music. But it basically feels like a well-photographed episode of the Partridge Family with Nazism thrown in (without actually taking the time to consider what that meant.)

At least it’s not as messed up as The King and I, though.

Posted By Kingrat : August 4, 2011 4:12 pm

Hey, Greg, Tom Cruise may be 49, but he’s a 49-year-old teenager. Most male movie stars today don’t become, like, middle-aged guys, the way (most of) the rest of us do. Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, definitely Leonardo Di Caprio. One day they’ll be 65-year-old teenagers.

And Greg, don’t tell me you and Kimberly think that the scene where E.T. almost dies was ripped off from the death of Tinker Bell in PETER PAN. I thought I was the only person mean enough to think that. I don’t hate E.T., but it’s pretty manipulative. All right, but not a fave.

Posted By Kingrat : August 4, 2011 4:12 pm

Hey, Greg, Tom Cruise may be 49, but he’s a 49-year-old teenager. Most male movie stars today don’t become, like, middle-aged guys, the way (most of) the rest of us do. Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, definitely Leonardo Di Caprio. One day they’ll be 65-year-old teenagers.

And Greg, don’t tell me you and Kimberly think that the scene where E.T. almost dies was ripped off from the death of Tinker Bell in PETER PAN. I thought I was the only person mean enough to think that. I don’t hate E.T., but it’s pretty manipulative. All right, but not a fave.

Posted By Emgee : August 4, 2011 4:18 pm

True classics remain fresh; other movies just grow stale. Top Gun is a case in point. But hey, i thought Star Wars was just for kids when it came out…..It was: for kids aged 4 to 84.
About remakes i agree with John Waters: it’s the bad ones that should be remade! Only this time the right way of course.
30 years is about the right amount of time to judge if movies have endured for other than nostalgic reasons. Is Saturday Night Fever a classic or a fond childhood memory? (well, not for me it ain’t!)

Posted By Emgee : August 4, 2011 4:18 pm

True classics remain fresh; other movies just grow stale. Top Gun is a case in point. But hey, i thought Star Wars was just for kids when it came out…..It was: for kids aged 4 to 84.
About remakes i agree with John Waters: it’s the bad ones that should be remade! Only this time the right way of course.
30 years is about the right amount of time to judge if movies have endured for other than nostalgic reasons. Is Saturday Night Fever a classic or a fond childhood memory? (well, not for me it ain’t!)

Posted By Christopher : August 4, 2011 4:51 pm

I was already a classic film nut in the early 70s..and preferred classics to going to the current ones even then..However the Drive-In type movies already came with a classic feel to them.THey were far from the “walk-in”movie theater films ..The “Blind Dead” films..The Blood Island” films all the Euro trash and even the few Hammer films left and Vincent Price AIP films ,had a classic feel to them.Reading about them first in Famous Monsters Of Filmland or Castle Of Frankenstein magazines no doubt helped to foster that feeling…But now,even the walk-in theater films ,Paper moon,The Exorcist,Blazing Saddles,Deliverence etc…for me have fallen into that line of treasured classics.

Posted By Christopher : August 4, 2011 4:51 pm

I was already a classic film nut in the early 70s..and preferred classics to going to the current ones even then..However the Drive-In type movies already came with a classic feel to them.THey were far from the “walk-in”movie theater films ..The “Blind Dead” films..The Blood Island” films all the Euro trash and even the few Hammer films left and Vincent Price AIP films ,had a classic feel to them.Reading about them first in Famous Monsters Of Filmland or Castle Of Frankenstein magazines no doubt helped to foster that feeling…But now,even the walk-in theater films ,Paper moon,The Exorcist,Blazing Saddles,Deliverence etc…for me have fallen into that line of treasured classics.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 5:03 pm

Kingrat, agreed. The actors that started their careers as teen idols (even if they are very good actors, mind you) have a hard time “growing up” so to speak. But I don’t think it’s their fault as much as me having a hard time seeing them differently.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 5:03 pm

Kingrat, agreed. The actors that started their careers as teen idols (even if they are very good actors, mind you) have a hard time “growing up” so to speak. But I don’t think it’s their fault as much as me having a hard time seeing them differently.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 5:10 pm

duke, Tom, Emgee – I’m always thinking of doing a post where we can talk about beloved films we hate but then remember the problem with posts like that is things can quickly get out of hand with people getting truly mean about slamming someone else’s favorite. I’m sure we’ve all already had that experience online before, right? Like a few dozen times? It’s a touchy subject but I’m sure it’s come up on the message boards before. I’ve discussed it on a few sites and I admit, there were times I started getting angry over some opinions and how they were stated.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 5:10 pm

duke, Tom, Emgee – I’m always thinking of doing a post where we can talk about beloved films we hate but then remember the problem with posts like that is things can quickly get out of hand with people getting truly mean about slamming someone else’s favorite. I’m sure we’ve all already had that experience online before, right? Like a few dozen times? It’s a touchy subject but I’m sure it’s come up on the message boards before. I’ve discussed it on a few sites and I admit, there were times I started getting angry over some opinions and how they were stated.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 5:11 pm

It’s true, Christopher, the Hammer Films and AIP flicks had that feel of instant classic to me, too because they seemed from another time even when they were brand new.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 4, 2011 5:11 pm

It’s true, Christopher, the Hammer Films and AIP flicks had that feel of instant classic to me, too because they seemed from another time even when they were brand new.

Posted By muriel schwenck : August 4, 2011 9:13 pm

I really identify with this post! To me, a “new” movie is anything made after 1960!!
That happens to be when I was born, but the cutoff in my mind has more to do with style. I generally prefer b/w over technicolor too. My mother thought I was crazy not wanting to look at anything newer. She couldn’t get that while she had seen all those old movies in theaters back in the day, I was still catching up and had neither time nor inclination for newer stuff. My father’s eyesight got so bad starting in the 70′s that he really couldn’t watch TV anymore, so he also remembered only the old films.

Posted By muriel schwenck : August 4, 2011 9:13 pm

I really identify with this post! To me, a “new” movie is anything made after 1960!!
That happens to be when I was born, but the cutoff in my mind has more to do with style. I generally prefer b/w over technicolor too. My mother thought I was crazy not wanting to look at anything newer. She couldn’t get that while she had seen all those old movies in theaters back in the day, I was still catching up and had neither time nor inclination for newer stuff. My father’s eyesight got so bad starting in the 70′s that he really couldn’t watch TV anymore, so he also remembered only the old films.

Posted By missrhea : August 4, 2011 10:52 pm

I’ve been thinking about this and I have to ask: do classic books (usually / ever) become classic movies? I think “The Great Gatsby” has been made into a film four or five times (and another one’s coming)but I don’t recall any version being considered a classic. (It may be that Fitzgerald doesn’t translate well to film but that’s a different question.)

p.s. I never actually saw the remake of “The Women” either; the clips were enough to turn me off. You’re right, Greg. How can anyone compete with Shearer, Russell, and Crawford?

Posted By missrhea : August 4, 2011 10:52 pm

I’ve been thinking about this and I have to ask: do classic books (usually / ever) become classic movies? I think “The Great Gatsby” has been made into a film four or five times (and another one’s coming)but I don’t recall any version being considered a classic. (It may be that Fitzgerald doesn’t translate well to film but that’s a different question.)

p.s. I never actually saw the remake of “The Women” either; the clips were enough to turn me off. You’re right, Greg. How can anyone compete with Shearer, Russell, and Crawford?

Posted By Doug : August 4, 2011 10:54 pm

“Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:43 am

I meant “imagining” in the first sentence. Dagnabbit…”

duke, did you mean perhaps ‘Dangnabbit?’

cheerfully, the spelling police
just kidding. I spelt “forbear” for ‘forebear’ on a blog just yesterday.
One of my young friends refuses to see any black and white pictures because they are “Old”. I hope she grows to appreciate the world she has cut herself off from.
A classic that I would love to see some more love for?
“The Loved One” with Robert Morse and the great Rod Steiger. I don’t care if it’s only 46 years old-it’s a classic to me.

Posted By Doug : August 4, 2011 10:54 pm

“Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 11:43 am

I meant “imagining” in the first sentence. Dagnabbit…”

duke, did you mean perhaps ‘Dangnabbit?’

cheerfully, the spelling police
just kidding. I spelt “forbear” for ‘forebear’ on a blog just yesterday.
One of my young friends refuses to see any black and white pictures because they are “Old”. I hope she grows to appreciate the world she has cut herself off from.
A classic that I would love to see some more love for?
“The Loved One” with Robert Morse and the great Rod Steiger. I don’t care if it’s only 46 years old-it’s a classic to me.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 10:59 pm

Miss Rhea- There are cases where classic books become classic movies: Gone with the Wind, Lost Horizon, The Wizard of Oz, The Grapes of Wrath, All the King’s Men and To Kill a Mockingbird are just a handful of examples.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 4, 2011 10:59 pm

Miss Rhea- There are cases where classic books become classic movies: Gone with the Wind, Lost Horizon, The Wizard of Oz, The Grapes of Wrath, All the King’s Men and To Kill a Mockingbird are just a handful of examples.

Posted By KC : August 5, 2011 2:13 am

That 10 year thing happens to me all the time lately. I guess I’m finally getting old. The Keanu Reeves line cracked me up. It’s true though, so I’m also frightened.

Posted By KC : August 5, 2011 2:13 am

That 10 year thing happens to me all the time lately. I guess I’m finally getting old. The Keanu Reeves line cracked me up. It’s true though, so I’m also frightened.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:29 am

My mother thought I was crazy not wanting to look at anything newer.

Muriel, I’ve had similar experiences with my mom. She actually doesn’t like “old” movies, which she calls them with a derisive tone in her voice. She finds them slow and dull and creaky and I completely and wholeheartedly disagree with her. She likes movies and tv from the late sixties on. I do too but, wow, is she missing out on a lot that came before. It’s like she never saw a movie until her late thirties or something.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:29 am

My mother thought I was crazy not wanting to look at anything newer.

Muriel, I’ve had similar experiences with my mom. She actually doesn’t like “old” movies, which she calls them with a derisive tone in her voice. She finds them slow and dull and creaky and I completely and wholeheartedly disagree with her. She likes movies and tv from the late sixties on. I do too but, wow, is she missing out on a lot that came before. It’s like she never saw a movie until her late thirties or something.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:34 am

missrhea, duke produces a pretty good list of classic books to become classic movies and there are even more examples of not-so-classic books (not bad, just not top-tier) that have become huge as films, like The Godfather and Jaws.

I remember seeing Tom Wolfe on David Letterman years ago after the failed film version of Bonfire of the Vanities was released to scathing reviews. Letterman asked him if that annoyed him, that such a bad adaptation had been done of his book. Wolfe responded with an answer so obvious and common-sensical I had never thought of it before. He said, “No, I love it. It means the book will keep selling. When they’re good, you’re sunk. I haven’t sold a copy of The Right Stuff since that damn movie came out.”

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:34 am

missrhea, duke produces a pretty good list of classic books to become classic movies and there are even more examples of not-so-classic books (not bad, just not top-tier) that have become huge as films, like The Godfather and Jaws.

I remember seeing Tom Wolfe on David Letterman years ago after the failed film version of Bonfire of the Vanities was released to scathing reviews. Letterman asked him if that annoyed him, that such a bad adaptation had been done of his book. Wolfe responded with an answer so obvious and common-sensical I had never thought of it before. He said, “No, I love it. It means the book will keep selling. When they’re good, you’re sunk. I haven’t sold a copy of The Right Stuff since that damn movie came out.”

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:35 am

“The Loved One” with Robert Morse and the great Rod Steiger. I don’t care if it’s only 46 years old-it’s a classic to me.

I love the scene with Rod singing his song to mommy as he brings in dinner. It’s disturbing on so many levels.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:35 am

“The Loved One” with Robert Morse and the great Rod Steiger. I don’t care if it’s only 46 years old-it’s a classic to me.

I love the scene with Rod singing his song to mommy as he brings in dinner. It’s disturbing on so many levels.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:38 am

KC, I hate to break this to you, but Reeves confirmed recently that a third Bill and Ted movie is due. I bet it’s going to be one of the “New Classics!”

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 5, 2011 8:38 am

KC, I hate to break this to you, but Reeves confirmed recently that a third Bill and Ted movie is due. I bet it’s going to be one of the “New Classics!”

Posted By missrhea : August 5, 2011 9:41 am

I thought about Gone with the Wind but I guess I was thinking more generally about whether classic books *usually* become classic movies as opposed to specific examples. It would seem to me to depend more on the director, the screenwriter/adaptation, and the actors more than classic book status. Think about the differences between the movie and the book of “Lost Horizon”. Most people remember Jane Wyatt as the beautiful Sondra but the character doesn’t appear in the book at all.

Tom Wolfe’s take on it is right on.

Posted By missrhea : August 5, 2011 9:41 am

I thought about Gone with the Wind but I guess I was thinking more generally about whether classic books *usually* become classic movies as opposed to specific examples. It would seem to me to depend more on the director, the screenwriter/adaptation, and the actors more than classic book status. Think about the differences between the movie and the book of “Lost Horizon”. Most people remember Jane Wyatt as the beautiful Sondra but the character doesn’t appear in the book at all.

Tom Wolfe’s take on it is right on.

Posted By Jenni : August 6, 2011 8:48 pm

Wow-great post, and I identify with your perspective on movies, when they came out, and how I’m aging, too! Top Gun, Tom Cruise, blech! The Women remake was awful, my daughter rented it and it couldn’t compare to the original. Also agree, great line about Spencer Tracy being in a flick like The Fly remake-lol! Another topic to throw in is that Hollywood seems to be running out of ideas, original ideas that is, for movies. My husband just read an article the other day that a movie is being made that has been inspired by the board game Battleship! What’s next? A movie based on Candyland? Plus, all the movies that are taken from tv shows and tweaked here and there for tasteless humor i.e. Land of the Lost, and remakes of remakes of books, another Jane Eyre came out and an earlier post mentioned another Great Gatsby in the works. And another Wizard of Oz in production too. Grrrrr! Aren’t there any creative brains left in Hollywood? One last vent, would TCM quit airing movies from the 80s and 90s? I don’t consider them Classics yet!!!

Posted By Jenni : August 6, 2011 8:48 pm

Wow-great post, and I identify with your perspective on movies, when they came out, and how I’m aging, too! Top Gun, Tom Cruise, blech! The Women remake was awful, my daughter rented it and it couldn’t compare to the original. Also agree, great line about Spencer Tracy being in a flick like The Fly remake-lol! Another topic to throw in is that Hollywood seems to be running out of ideas, original ideas that is, for movies. My husband just read an article the other day that a movie is being made that has been inspired by the board game Battleship! What’s next? A movie based on Candyland? Plus, all the movies that are taken from tv shows and tweaked here and there for tasteless humor i.e. Land of the Lost, and remakes of remakes of books, another Jane Eyre came out and an earlier post mentioned another Great Gatsby in the works. And another Wizard of Oz in production too. Grrrrr! Aren’t there any creative brains left in Hollywood? One last vent, would TCM quit airing movies from the 80s and 90s? I don’t consider them Classics yet!!!

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 1:13 pm

Jenni, I actually address some of what you mention here in my next post but you’ll have to wait until Wednesday to find out what. In the meantime… Battleship??!?!!???!! That’s enough to make you give up on Hollywood forever.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 1:13 pm

Jenni, I actually address some of what you mention here in my next post but you’ll have to wait until Wednesday to find out what. In the meantime… Battleship??!?!!???!! That’s enough to make you give up on Hollywood forever.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 7, 2011 2:07 pm

Yes, Battleship. And not only does the idea of a movie based on a characterless board game sound like a stupid idea, but the trailer makes it look even worse. A U.S. battleship fights aliens on the ocean. It looks like a bad Transformers movie. Excuse me. Let me rephrase: It looks like ANOTHER bad Transformers movie. And Liam Neeson is in it, in full check cashing mode. This movie will never be a classic by anyone’s standards.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 7, 2011 2:07 pm

Yes, Battleship. And not only does the idea of a movie based on a characterless board game sound like a stupid idea, but the trailer makes it look even worse. A U.S. battleship fights aliens on the ocean. It looks like a bad Transformers movie. Excuse me. Let me rephrase: It looks like ANOTHER bad Transformers movie. And Liam Neeson is in it, in full check cashing mode. This movie will never be a classic by anyone’s standards.

Posted By jbryant : August 7, 2011 7:20 pm

Not to defend remakes or Hollywood’s general lack of originality, but the issue isn’t exactly new. A Production Code office report in 1956 determined that only 55% of films it approved in 1955 were based on original screenplays, down from 73% in 1950. As people usually note when this subject comes up, John Huston’s THE MALTESE FALCON was the third version of that novel to hit the screen (just 5 years after the second). Execution is everything.

As for the whole B&W thing: If I live to be 100, I’ll never understand people who are allergic to B&W. No offense to anyone’s mother or kids or friends, but seriously — the color of the film stock has absolutely no bearing on whether a film is well acted, directed or written. And really good B&W photography is rather difficult to achieve. While many B&W efforts look pedestrian (as do many color films), the best monochrome photography has given us countless images of great power and beauty. Anyone who can’t see that must be a — I’m tempted to say bloomin’ idiot, but maybe Philistine would be less offensive? :)

Posted By jbryant : August 7, 2011 7:20 pm

Not to defend remakes or Hollywood’s general lack of originality, but the issue isn’t exactly new. A Production Code office report in 1956 determined that only 55% of films it approved in 1955 were based on original screenplays, down from 73% in 1950. As people usually note when this subject comes up, John Huston’s THE MALTESE FALCON was the third version of that novel to hit the screen (just 5 years after the second). Execution is everything.

As for the whole B&W thing: If I live to be 100, I’ll never understand people who are allergic to B&W. No offense to anyone’s mother or kids or friends, but seriously — the color of the film stock has absolutely no bearing on whether a film is well acted, directed or written. And really good B&W photography is rather difficult to achieve. While many B&W efforts look pedestrian (as do many color films), the best monochrome photography has given us countless images of great power and beauty. Anyone who can’t see that must be a — I’m tempted to say bloomin’ idiot, but maybe Philistine would be less offensive? :)

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 7:50 pm

jbryant – Not that I don’t appreciate your comment but…
S T O P ! ! !

I go into detail on remakes in my very next post, and mention THE MALTESE FALCON as a part of it. Actually, I leave SATAN WAS A LADY out of the equation as it was not a literal adaptation but a loose, all-the-names-are-changed adaptation. But anyway, read my next post on Wednesday for more.

And I’m with you 100 percent on the B&W thing. I just don’t get it. As for my mom’s reaction, she doesn’t care if it’s in black and white, she likes the profanity, violence and sex that the post-ratings era brought. I must be the only man with an eighty year old mother who feels that way about movies. But yes, if the color of the film stock affects whether or not a person likes a movie… why should I ever trust his/her opinion on anything?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 7:50 pm

jbryant – Not that I don’t appreciate your comment but…
S T O P ! ! !

I go into detail on remakes in my very next post, and mention THE MALTESE FALCON as a part of it. Actually, I leave SATAN WAS A LADY out of the equation as it was not a literal adaptation but a loose, all-the-names-are-changed adaptation. But anyway, read my next post on Wednesday for more.

And I’m with you 100 percent on the B&W thing. I just don’t get it. As for my mom’s reaction, she doesn’t care if it’s in black and white, she likes the profanity, violence and sex that the post-ratings era brought. I must be the only man with an eighty year old mother who feels that way about movies. But yes, if the color of the film stock affects whether or not a person likes a movie… why should I ever trust his/her opinion on anything?

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 7:51 pm

A U.S. battleship fights aliens on the ocean.

I knew there was something missing from the game. Aliens. That was it. I bet they’d make RISK better, too.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 7:51 pm

A U.S. battleship fights aliens on the ocean.

I knew there was something missing from the game. Aliens. That was it. I bet they’d make RISK better, too.

Posted By Tom S : August 7, 2011 7:55 pm

There’s a version of Risk where you fight for the moon, so aliens wouldn’t be that far off, really.

I love black and white so much- I particularly wish there were more movies that were both black and white and filmed in 1:66 or wider- there’s something about that combination that is almost always beautiful to me. Which is part of why Yojimbo, Sanjuro, and High and Low are probably my favorite Kurosawa movies.

Posted By Tom S : August 7, 2011 7:55 pm

There’s a version of Risk where you fight for the moon, so aliens wouldn’t be that far off, really.

I love black and white so much- I particularly wish there were more movies that were both black and white and filmed in 1:66 or wider- there’s something about that combination that is almost always beautiful to me. Which is part of why Yojimbo, Sanjuro, and High and Low are probably my favorite Kurosawa movies.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 8:04 pm

Yeah, when I saw La Dolce Vita on the big screen, 2:35 to 1 ratio, spread out across that big screen with such sharp black and white… it was just beautiful! Nothing else like it.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 7, 2011 8:04 pm

Yeah, when I saw La Dolce Vita on the big screen, 2:35 to 1 ratio, spread out across that big screen with such sharp black and white… it was just beautiful! Nothing else like it.

Posted By Doug : August 7, 2011 10:29 pm

Just an aside, but the technology of bigger better televisions has helped to improve our viewing of classic movies. We spent most of our lives looking at classics on vhs through a tv ‘tube’. It’s a whole new game now.

Posted By Doug : August 7, 2011 10:29 pm

Just an aside, but the technology of bigger better televisions has helped to improve our viewing of classic movies. We spent most of our lives looking at classics on vhs through a tv ‘tube’. It’s a whole new game now.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 8, 2011 1:10 am

Doug is so right. You should see Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray on my 40 inch HDTV. It is a thing of beauty. And Sleeping Beauty is just about the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.

Posted By dukeroberts : August 8, 2011 1:10 am

Doug is so right. You should see Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray on my 40 inch HDTV. It is a thing of beauty. And Sleeping Beauty is just about the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.

Posted By Tom S : August 8, 2011 3:43 am

Pfah, HDTVs. I have a projector- it’s not quite the same experience as actually going to the movies, but it’s as close as its possible to get at home.

One thing having a projector changes that you never get on a TV is that close ups loom properly- when you watch a Von Sternberg movie, there are these headshots of Dietrich that are supposed to be almost like pagan idols, giant tight close ups that would be fifteen feet high in a movie theater. On a TV, they’re no bigger than a normal human head, and they seem totally unremarkable- which is one of the reasons that TV shows shoot tight close ups all the time. On a projector, you get some of that feeling back.

It’s even better with Leone, where you have a pair of eyes six feet across.

Posted By Tom S : August 8, 2011 3:43 am

Pfah, HDTVs. I have a projector- it’s not quite the same experience as actually going to the movies, but it’s as close as its possible to get at home.

One thing having a projector changes that you never get on a TV is that close ups loom properly- when you watch a Von Sternberg movie, there are these headshots of Dietrich that are supposed to be almost like pagan idols, giant tight close ups that would be fifteen feet high in a movie theater. On a TV, they’re no bigger than a normal human head, and they seem totally unremarkable- which is one of the reasons that TV shows shoot tight close ups all the time. On a projector, you get some of that feeling back.

It’s even better with Leone, where you have a pair of eyes six feet across.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 8, 2011 8:28 am

there are these headshots of Dietrich that are supposed to be almost like pagan idols

She always was kind of godlike in my opinion anyway, so that’s fitting. I’m a firm believer in seeing something on the big screen whenever possible. Luckily, I live in a place that has a well-funded, beautiful theatre (The AFI Silver) that regularly shows classic films and hard to see current foreign and domestic releases. But whether it’s HDTV or projector, I think, as Doug said, it’s definitely a new game.

In the link I provide further up, to my review of seeing The Crowd there, I talk about how seeing a movie on tv today is a completely different thing than seeing it on tv thirty-plus years ago. Seeing it on tv then meant commercials, editing for tv, deleted scenes re-added, theatrically released scenes cut, pan and scan, profanity bleeped and nudity cut. When you watched a movie on tv it meant you really, truly weren’t seeing the same movie the director made. You were seeing a reasonable facsimile, nothing more. Now, even if the close-ups don’t loom as large, you’re seeing the film (on DVD, I mean) as it was made. Proper aspect ratio (in most cases), no cutting, no commercials, no pan and scan. Speaking as someone who grew up in the seventies watching theatrically released films on tv, let me tell you, it’s a million times better now.

Posted By Greg Ferrara : August 8, 2011 8:28 am

there are these headshots of Dietrich that are supposed to be almost like pagan idols

She always was kind of godlike in my opinion anyway, so that’s fitting. I’m a firm believer in seeing something on the big screen whenever possible. Luckily, I live in a place that has a well-funded, beautiful theatre (The AFI Silver) that regularly shows classic films and hard to see current foreign and domestic releases. But whether it’s HDTV or projector, I think, as Doug said, it’s definitely a new game.

In the link I provide further up, to my review of seeing The Crowd there, I talk about how seeing a movie on tv today is a completely different thing than seeing it on tv thirty-plus years ago. Seeing it on tv then meant commercials, editing for tv, deleted scenes re-added, theatrically released scenes cut, pan and scan, profanity bleeped and nudity cut. When you watched a movie on tv it meant you really, truly weren’t seeing the same movie the director made. You were seeing a reasonable facsimile, nothing more. Now, even if the close-ups don’t loom as large, you’re seeing the film (on DVD, I mean) as it was made. Proper aspect ratio (in most cases), no cutting, no commercials, no pan and scan. Speaking as someone who grew up in the seventies watching theatrically released films on tv, let me tell you, it’s a million times better now.

Posted By Heidi : August 8, 2011 12:16 pm

to Jenni- I say that to my husband everytime I see a nre release. “It’s been done before!” usually to death! He doesn’t always agree with me, he says there is still original stuff being released from big hollywood, but I just wanted you to know I feel you pain!

Posted By Heidi : August 8, 2011 12:16 pm

to Jenni- I say that to my husband everytime I see a nre release. “It’s been done before!” usually to death! He doesn’t always agree with me, he says there is still original stuff being released from big hollywood, but I just wanted you to know I feel you pain!

Posted By Jenni : August 9, 2011 4:17 pm

Thanks Heidi! I knew I couldn’t be the only one out there disappointed by what Hollywood of today produces!

Posted By Jenni : August 9, 2011 4:17 pm

Thanks Heidi! I knew I couldn’t be the only one out there disappointed by what Hollywood of today produces!

Posted By chris : August 9, 2011 6:10 pm

Let’s face it folks. We’re getting old. It’s only a matter of time before we’re in a nursing home hearing rap over the common area speakers and wondering why we’re not dead yet.

Posted By chris : August 9, 2011 6:10 pm

Let’s face it folks. We’re getting old. It’s only a matter of time before we’re in a nursing home hearing rap over the common area speakers and wondering why we’re not dead yet.

Leave a Reply

Current ye@r *

We regret to inform you that FilmStruck is now closed.  Our last day of service was November 29, 2018.

Please visit tcm.com/help for more information.

We would like to thank our many fans and loyal customers who supported us.  FilmStruck was truly a labor of love, and in a world with an abundance of entertainment options – THANK YOU for choosing us.